Well, actually, in Thailand.
Long ago, in a Thai village far away, a younger version of myself with beautifully silky long hair was staying in an orphanage. I’d decided to pack up my things and go and teach English to children who had lost everything in the tsunami.
Whilst there, I got two major things:
- The most eye-opening couple of months of my life.
- Head lice.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Grab some louse killer, a nit comb, and you’re good to go.
But hold on. Remember we were in the middle of nowhere. And there were no shops. Let alone a pharmacy.
The solution? Well, as the coordinator of the children’s home explained to me in pigeon English: chop, chop.
The kids gathered around me. So excited were they to learn I would soon have the same hair as them (in Thailand, all girls have to have bobs for school), they squealed and hugged one another.
“You, me, same same!” They chanted.
Well, when a large group of children who have nothing want you to cut off some hair, what can you do?
I acquiesced. Soon, my hair was lying in clumps around me. 5 minutes later, I looked like this:
Well, what do you do when you get back to the UK and realise the pudding bowl look went out 30 years ago?
Blonde. Oh yes. You go blonde. Everything looks better blonde. Doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, some snooty hairdresser in Wimbledon told me my hair was “simply too dark” to ever be properly peroxide.
My dreams of being Debbie Harry for a year while my hair returned to normal length slipped through my fingers like sand.
And then I thought, you know what, these so-called professionals are just trampling my buzz.
They’ve clearly just got it in for me.
If they won’t let me unleash my inner blonde, I’ll just have to take matters into my own hands.
Several L’Oreal boxes of home dye later, I was transformed.
Now for a while, I was happy.
However that happiness quickly became a distant memory when I realised I was going to have to dye my hair fortnightly to keep up with my comparatively black regrowth.
And then, after about 10 home dyes, my hair went dry, like straw, ew.
And then it fell out.
And then I wept. It didn’t help that a close friend chose to take me to the side and have a quiet word about how I looked “a bit Alistair Darling”.
So, I swallowed my pride and admitted perhaps the Wimbledon salon didn’t hate me. Perhaps, all along, they’d been looking out for my best interests.
I shuffled back to the stylist and told her to fix it.
She told me she’d never seen hair so damaged.
I told her it was her fault for not doing it the way I asked in the first place. If they’d only blooming well listened, I wouldn’t have had to go my own way. I could have been blondified in a safe and competent environment and none of this would have ever happened.
She told me, periodically, that going peroxide when you are as brunette as me never works, professional assistance or none.
We agreed to disagree.
Apparently, the only thing to do was for me to go back to my original colour using semi permanent dye. By now it had been a few months, and my hair was shoulder length. I told the stylist to give it her best shot.
I don’t know whether she’d intentionally misremembered my original DARK brown colour (though I don’t see how she could have since it was the colour that caused the debate), or what. Maybe it was my comeuppance, I don’t know.
She dyed my hair a mousy brown colour that quickly faded to field rat. I was sold some highly extortionate conditioner that did, well, nothing.
I was going to give up.
And then, like a shining guardian angel of barnets, along came Wayne.
Wayne set up Shape Hair in Teddington earlier this year, after he and his family moved here from New Zealand. The salon has been attracting great local reviews ever since.
When Wayne told me he thought he could fix my hair, I assured him he should probably take a look at it before making such a pledge.
“I think” I announced gravely, “It’s unsalvageable.”
And maybe it was. But when I came by the salon, Wayne was too polite to say. He merely commented on the “poor condition” delicately, before getting to the root (sorry), of the problem.
“It’s just got no style. It’s got no shape. It’s just… hanging there. It’s been badly done.”
At this point, I was loving the fact he wasn’t blaming me.
With a flourish, he presented me his look book and we decided on a bold new look. Chop, chop.
But this, time, I wasn’t going to look like disheveled stray dog. I was going to have a stylish crop so my hair could rejuvenate (the dead locks had to go), and return to my natural colour.
What I mean by this is that though I understood the technicalities, how he managed to make my barnet look THIS much better is beyond me. He also matched my hair exactly to it’s original colour, auburn streaks and all, which was impressive.
And the best bit? While I doubted it would look so sleek when it hadn’t been blow dried by a professional, I was wrong.
“You can’t be getting a blow dry every time you need to look good. My cuts are designed to look good even without professional styling” Wayne explained.
Fat chance, I thought, but, as I would later discover, my hair would end up looking good even if I let it dry naturally.
“I just have to ask you one more thing” I ventured before leaving. “Is it true that my natural colour is too dark to have gone peroxide blonde?”
“No” replied Wayne. “You just need the right hairdresser.”
I think I’ve found him.